16 Nov 2008

[Taipei Times] A movement away from the political orthodoxy

A group of students and academics linked up via the Internet to launch a silent vigil, one quite different in form and purpose from the noisy mobilizations of the blue and green parties.

Their goals are very simple: Criticize police for acting outside their authority and infringing on freedom of speech in the name of security; demand that the government admit to and apologize for its errors; and call for amendments to the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法) where the law conflicts with freedom of expression.

The students are straightforward, sincere and deserve to be taken seriously. These are people who originally gave politics the cold shoulder and who are sick and tired of the endless war of words between pro-unification and pro-independence forces. During the overextension of police authority during Chen’s visit, the students saw the ugly face of the abuse of government power. They saw how the police were selective in approving applications for assembly, how they banned the display of the Republic of China flag in specified areas, how they gratuitously marched into a record shop and ordered the management to stop playing certain music.

To the protesters, all of these actions exceeded the boundaries of law enforcement.

The protesters’ agenda indicates that a new generation has appeared with its own way of thinking. The axis of political debate in Taiwan may gradually move away from the struggle between unification and independence forces, which the younger generation finds meaningless, toward a fight for deeper democracy and civil liberties.

Politicians should recognize the sincerity of this movement instead of smearing it. Any party that fails to recognize the shift that is taking place risks being sidelined and swept away. (Full Text)

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